Our top 10 tips to using social media for business...

1. There is no single strategy that fits every business

A successful business has unique selling points meaning your business is different. Don't use the same social media strategies as others, develop your own style and personality. Some rules of thumb (but remember you are unique): Twitter is good for B2B, Facebook is good for B2C, LinkedIn is good for all professional contacts.

2. Use your social media consistently

Other users expect to hear from you regularly. A common annoyance for other users is to receive a flood of content and then nothing for a long time and then another flood of content. Add content regularly and when you have something to say.

3. Don't sell

You want to sell but repeatedly telling people to buy from you is a mistake. People want to know what you do and what products or services you offer but social media channels are not sales rooms.

4. Listen

The first step is to listen to others. You want to enter into dialogue with potential customers, suppliers and collaborators so listen to what they have to say first.

5. Be human

People buy from people. With a company social media account make the messages from a person by simply adding a name at one end of a message. Companies that have a customer service Twitter account will often start a session with "Alice here for the next hour" or something similar.

6. Interact

Respond to other users. Add your views to threads about interesting topics and/or repost the comments of others. If someone else says you are good, thank them. If someone has something bad to say, ask them what the problem is, apologise, fix it and ask them if they are now satisfied. You can turn detractors into advocates this way.

7. Help others

Respond to requests for help. Where people ask for a product or service that you don't supply pass on the details of someone who does. You will find that people generally reciprocate.

8. Meet offline

Where you have built up a rapport with another business through social media and the distance isn't too far, arrange to meet up for a coffee and a chat about how you could help each other.

9. Have a plan

Create a strategy for social media use. Decide the best social media channels, what key messages to promote, how often to add content and appoint a staff member who is responsible for managing your content, regularly monitoring your account and replying to mentions, comments and messages. Applications are available that allow you to pre-schedule your messages in advance and monitor for replies and mentions.

10. Measure

Record when customers come from social media both directly and indirectly through the relationships you have built. Don't just measure followers, quality is better than quantity.

Article by Ian Elcoate of Tad Web Solutions Ltd.

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